29 September 2010

Singapore's Olympic Medal Targets

According to media reports, the Singapore Sports Council is targeting two medals to be won by Singapore athletes at the 2012 Olympic Games and six medals at the 2016 Olympic Games.  Singapore has won only two silver medals in previous Olympics — in women's team table tennis in 2006 and in men's weightlifting in 1960.

The Sports Council did not say in which sport or sports the medals are targeted to be won.  From the perspective of the public at large, that is understandable.  A medal is a medal, whether it is won in swimming, table tennis or shooting, for example.

But what does this mean for the respective national sports associations ("NSA")?

What are their respective goals?  What are their respective key performance indicators to achieve the goals set for them?

Each NSA wants its athletes to win as many medals as possible in its sport.

But that is not enough.  Unless each NSA is assigned, or has set for itself, a targeted number of medals to be won, no NSA is accountable for its contribution to the total number of medals to be won.

In other words, a collective goal needs to be split into, or made up of, goals for each contributing NSA.  Otherwise, which NSA is accountable if the target is not met?

By way of example, when a company sets a profit target, each of its component divisions is assigned or has set for itself a profit target, against which its performance may be measured.

Even if that company manages to meet its profit target through the out-performance of some divisions which compensated for the under-performance of other divisions, the various divisions will be rewarded or recognised differently.

So should it be for the NSAs.

Hopefully, the Sports Council's target is not just a vision or a wish, with no one being held accountable if the target is not achieved provided everyone tried his or her best.

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